Strange History and News of Weird Trivia 1836 to 1869

A collectiong of random facts and strange history from 1836 to 1869 including trivia about Paris birth rates, the Indian-head penny, and suicide as a capital crime.


1836 Born Mar. 14, 1829, in Staffordshire, England, Charles Charlesworth passed his first years ordinarily enough. But at age four he began growing whiskers and body hair, and within the next three years his veins and tendons stood out in relief from his skin, like those of a man of 70. His hair turned white, his skin wrinkled like a prune's, and his posture became stooped. At age seven, young Charles passed out and died. According to the coroner, the cause of death was old age.

1837 Gunning for the record books, many persons in recent times have had themselves buried alive for upwards of 100 days--first arranging, of course, to have food, water, and oxygen pumped to them mechanically. But in 1837 an Indian yogi named Hari Das used suspended animation to remain buried for 40 days without air, food, liquid, or the attentions of others. On being excavated he was easily revived, and lived to a ripe old age.

1843 Physicians told 64-year-old Countess Rosa Branicka of Poland that she was suffering from breast cancer and that surgery was mandatory. But the countess refused their ministrations and instead embarked on a journey through Germany, Switzerland, and France to acquire a collection of surgical instruments with which she removed the tumor herself, in a Paris hotel room. More amazing, Countess Branicka recovered quickly and lived to be 82.

1859 According to a paper published in 1976 by Jacques Voranger in Population, the birthrate in Paris dropped significantly nine months after the summer of 1859, just as it did nine months after the summers of 1876, 1884, 1904, 1911, and 1933. Reason: weather annals show that those summers were among the hottest ever recorded.

1859 The Indian-head penny was minted in the U.S., but there was no Indian on it. According to the curator of the mint, the mint's engraver, James B. Longacre, "modeled" a bust of Liberty wearing "a feather bonnet" for the 1? piece. From the beginning, people mistook the Liberty head for an Indian head, and the misnamed Indian-head penny was born.

1860 Suicide was, paradoxically, a capital offense in Great Britain in the 19th century, so if you survived your own attempt at killing yourself, the state would finish the job for you. Around 1860, according to Nicholas Ogarev, a Russian expatriate living in London, a man who had slashed his throat was taken to the gallows to be hanged for his crime. But physicians warned the executioner that hanging the man would be impossible; the pull of the rope would open the wound in his neck and force him to breathe. Paying the doctors no heed, they hanged him anyway, and, writes Ogarev, "the wound in the neck immediately opened and the man came back to life again although he was hanged. It took time to convoke the aldermen to decide the question of what was to be done. At length the aldermen assembled and bound up the neck below the wound until he died."

1869 Chewing gum was patented by William Finley Semple of Mount Vernon, O. An American physician published an article warning that the use of the rubbery abomination "would exhaust the salivary glands and cause the intestines to stick together."

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